[Self-promotion post] New Book: Ezra Rosser, A Nation Within: Navajo Land and Economic Development (Cambridge University Press, 2021). [The Amazon link is here.] Overview below, then some author notes:
In A Nation Within, Ezra Rosser explores the connection between land-use patterns and development in the Navajo Nation. Roughly the size of Ireland or West Virginia, the Navajo reservation has seen successive waves of natural resource-based development over the last century: grazing and over-grazing, oil and gas, uranium, and coal; yet Navajos continue to suffer from high levels of unemployment and poverty. Rosser shows the connection between the exploitation of these resources and the growth of the tribal government before turning to contemporary land use and development challenges. He argues that, in addition to the political challenges associated with any significant change, external pressures and internal corruption have made it difficult for the tribe to implement land reforms that could help provide space for economic development that would benefit the Navajo Nation and Navajo tribal members.
Some author notes: First, the self-serving but fortunately honest point . . . I think this book does relate to poverty, even though it is not framed as a “poverty law” book. I hope it finds an audience, so please forward info about the book to anyone (librarians, faculty at other schools or departments, students, bookstores, etc) who might be interested. And I am happy to talk more about the book–so if you think of a good way to share the work, please reach out to me. And the cover art, produced by Jared Yazzie of OXDX Clothing Designs, makes this a great book to display on a shelf or coffee table even if you are not going to read it!
Second, I really want to thank the folks that made this book possible, starting with the people at Cambridge University Press. They were a pleasure to work with and I greatly appreciate their belief in this book from the moment I approached them. The librarians at my school were also fabulous, esp. when tracking down hard to obtain items (the best example of which was an internal history of Peabody Coal Company that could only be found in two places). And, of course, a book like this is only possible because of tremendous institutional support, both from main campus and from the law school.
This book took A LOT longer to do than I thought it would, which meant that it benefited from work others have done recently related to Navajo economic development and natural resources. I recently published a thank you in the Navajo Times, so I won’t repeat myself here, but it is great to find others who share the same commitment and love for Diné and the Navajo Nation.
Finally, the book would not have been possible without the support of various people who helped take care of my kids during the writing process. I am not sure whether this is true or not, but I read a book dedication once that said the book was dedicated to the author’s spouse and kids, without whom it would have been completed earlier. It makes for a nice punchline and might be true in some respects, but my greatest privilege over the last eleven years has been the privilege and opportunity to be an involved parent and partner. I used to joke that the fact that my school’s daycare does not start until kids hit 2 1/2 was a sign they did not care if I was productive during those years. And certainly my book took longer than I thought it would, partly or even largely because of parenting obligations; which as most parents know can be brutal in the moment but are beautiful in hindsight (the headaches, oh the headaches from lack of sleep with a newborn). But my wife, kids, and I have also benefited from tremendous help from grandparents, daycare teachers, babysitters, school teachers, coaches, and others who give so much of themselves to our children (and to us). So thank you.